Friday 16 October 2009

Past and present: Serge Lutens

First up in niki's new make-up vault is Serge Lutens.

Serge Lutens was born in 1942 in Lille, France. At the age of fourteen he was taken on as an apprentice in a hair salon in Lille. Here, as well as being a hairdresser he experimented with photography and make-up using his friends to pose as models. In 1962 at the young age of just twenty he moved to Paris and began working with the prestigious French Vogue. He was hired to create make-up, hair and jewellery. During the 1960's he went on to collaborate with great photographers including Richard Avedon, Bob Richardson, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn and of course, he partied hard with the Paris smart-set.

In 1967 Christian Dior commissioned him to create a line of cosmetics. Christian Dior make-up was soon breaking new ground with such bold colours and Lutens quickly became very well-respected. In 1968, Lutens was holidaying in the south of France taking a well-earned break from creating his make-up line for Christian Dior. He took a sailing boat to Morocco, he followed his nose to Marrakesh falling in love with the smell of the souk. At the tender age of 26 he told himself it would be magnificent to re-create this fragrant scent, and so, a perfumer was born.

Lutens went on to be a well regarded photographer and film maker. His 1973 series of photographs inspired by artists Claude Monet, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Amedo Modigliani was shown at The Guggenheim Museum, New York. During the mid-seventies he directed two short art films 'Les stars'(1974) and 'Suaire'(1976), both of these were shown at the Cannes film festival. To many people Lutens is most well known for his advertising work with the cosmetics brand Shiseido. The brand hired Lutens in 1980 as Creative and Art director to develop their range. During the 1980's he shot various advertising campaigns and films and designed make-up and packaging. He persuaded Shiseido to let him produce perfumes and he hasn't looked back since. His business is still owned by shiseido today. He masterminded some of shiseido's most iconic scents including 'Nombre Noir' in 1982.

In 1992 Lutens conceived and designed 'Les salons de Palais Royal', a house of perfume. During the nineties he launched a range of scents including cult classic Ambre Sultan. In 2000 he launched his own brand 'Parfums Beaute Serge Lutens' sold exclusively in prestigious locations around the world. For consecutive years between 2001 and 2004 he was awarded the 'Fifi award' for best original concept. Most recently in 2008 he launched his own relatively small cosmetics line 'Neccessaire de Beaute Serge Lutens', this was created with shiseido. Products come in chic black, laquered packaging with an expensive price tag sold exclusively at Harvey Nichols, London and Barney's, New York.

Today Lutens,67, resides in Marrakesh, Morocco.

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